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F. Hopkinson Smith

Author/Artist/Engineer

Centurion, 1875–1915

Full Name Francis Hopkinson Smith

Born 23 October 1838 in Baltimore, Maryland

Died 7 April 1915 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Woodlawn Cemetery and Conservancy, Bronx, New York

Proposed by William H. Tillinghast and William F. Bridge

Elected 6 November 1875 at age thirty-seven

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

We have now to speak to our sorrow of three artists, cut off in their prime, though one of them was little short of eighty. Francis Hopkinson Smith never would have passed his prime had he lived to be a hundred. This man of genial versatility was a Virginian born in Baltimore in 1838. Beginning as clerk in a hardware store, he soon got a better position in an iron works, and commenced to save money and educate himself as an engineer, for which, as for all things, he had much talent. Later, as a contracting engineer, he built the sea wall around Governor’s Island, the foundation for the Bartholdi statue, and the Race Rock lighthouse off New London, of which he was justly proud. Hopkinson Smith had the faculty of turning these engineering enterprises into human experiences helpful for his own robust growth, and serviceable in other fields. As circumstance, opportunity, and the realization of his faculties drew him on, he became a traveler, an amusing and amused observer of life, a painter of entertaining water colors, and a writer of delightful books. For one man who knew of the engineer and lighthouse builder, thousands all over the world came to know or hear of this raconteur and after-dinner speaker, or see his water-colors, or read his stories, which he so charmingly illustrated. It is but yesterday that we were all admiring his drawings for his Thackeray’s London. Examples of his water-colors are contained in a number of our best galleries. They won him medals at American Expositions as well as from the Sultan of Turkey. His stories are even better. In spite of his dash and easy facility, he worked as hard on them as on his lighthouse. Not lightly could any man have written such books as Col. Carter of Carterville, or Caleb West, Master Diver. These and other of his stories have not only been popular, but are likely to live because of their charmingly turned human truth. Here, how many of us knew Hop. Smith! He was a very true friend, and the living embodiment of the manly and chivalric qualities which he gave to the characters in his stories.

Henry Osborn Taylor
1916 Century Association Yearbook